Brad Silverstein doesn't play it coy with his latest art show, The Turkey Bonanza. You go expecting turkey, and turkey is what you get: paintings of turkey, drawings of turkey, an enormous hanging model of a turkey, even stacked-up cans of "Premium Thanksgiving," with a turkey-suited mascot on the label. It's a whimsical send-up of America's most American holiday -- and the Western art tradition to boot. Silverstein based his paintings on Thanksgiving turkey photos he found on the Web. He incorporated some of them into trompe l'oeil compositions, and executed others in the sumptuous, dignified style of Dutch Old Masters. The results are both humorous and faintly unsettling. In one painting, what appear to be two wooden turkeys return the viewer's gaze with aristocratic hauteur. In another, a cooked turkey slumps forward menacingly in its pan, looking as if it's about to leap out of the frame and attack. Despite the show's satirical edge, Silverstein says he's aiming for a lighthearted mood: "We're celebrating Thanksgiving even while pointing out the contradictions around it. I'd say the feeling is a warm one and an inclusive one and a communal one."
First graders from Vallejo's Beverly Hills Elementary School will also contribute artworks, drawing hand turkeys according to step-by-step instructions from the show's mythical presiding genius, Jake Lewitt (a joke on conceptual artist Sol Lewitt). They'll be making abstract sculptures from Stove Top stuffing too, although 33 Grand director Alex Munn admits that part is a bit of an experiment: "I'm not clear on what their shelf life is going to be."
Munn doesn't sound worried, though. He's learned a thing or two about edible art from Meadow Presley's installation of sewn candy, currently decaying at 33 Grand. "She basically made it for the opening, and a couple of days later it started to collapse," Munn says. "The next day, a little girl came through and started munching on it. So Meadow and I talked, and we agreed to let it decompose naturally."
Everyone is invited to Turkey Bonanza's opening-night potluck Friday, where there's talk of an actor in Pilgrim garb, a Thanksgiving Proclamation, and a "mutant cornucopia." So get yourself down to the reception -- and bring some food, if you like. Even at a show that's a little bit Pop, dinner isn't going to eat itself. 33 Grand, 33 Grand Ave., Oakland. Through December 18. Potluck reception 6-9 p.m. 33Grand.com -- Chris Ulbrich
Two-part project at BAM
Polish artist Wilhelm Sasnal seizes on a uniquely American subject -- the flooding of the Mississippi River as depicted in Pare Lorentz' 1938 film documentary The River -- in a filmmaking project and painting exhibition, opening Sunday with an artist's talk (4 p.m.) at the Berkeley Art Museum as part of the MATRIX program. Sasnal (as in his portrait of George Gershwin, above) tends to draw on news photos, film, video, and animation for his work, which references everything from Soviet agitprop to Sonic Youth. Through February 27. Info: BAMPFA.berkeley.edu -- Kelly Vance
Wine On You Crazy Diamond
Depending on your perspective, inventor Nikola Tesla was either a madman, a visionary, or both, but what's madness without wine? Obviously not as much fun. Roughly a century ago, Tesla engineered man-made lightning and claimed he received extraterrestrial radio-wave transmissions. And also a hundred years ago, Tesla Vintners (5143 Tesla Rd.) became the Livermore Valley's first community wine-tasting venue. Coincidence? We think not. You can catch lightning in a bottle this Saturday afternoon when Tesla hosts a centennial party featuring live music from the Singing Winemaker and plenty of tasty varietals from local wineries. Bring your own holiday cheer. 925-606-WINE. -- Eric K. Arnold
La area de la bahia gets muy caliente with Tribute to the Conga for a show honoring the rhythm of the conga drum, as evidenced through salsa, descarga, and rumba. The show tonight at Berkeley's Shattuck Down Low (2284 Shattuck Ave.) features current Santana member Karl Perazzo; Oakland resident Sandy Perez (best known for his work with Afrocuba de Matanzas); Havana native Carlos Caro, bandleader of Vision Latina; and Edgardo Cambón, a Uruguayan expatriate who teaches percussion at Folsom State Prison. $5-$10. ShattuckDownLow.com -- Eric K. Arnold
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